Hedge­hogs are fac­ing ex­tinc­tion

Macclesfield Express - - WILDLIFE -

THE most com­mon ques­tion I am asked th­ese days is ‘Where have all the hedge­hogs gone?’

And the dev­as­tat­ing news is that th­ese won­der­ful na­tive crea­tures are fac­ing ex­tinc­tion in this coun­try. Hedge­hog num­bers have plum­meted by 30 per cent in the past 10 years – they are dis­ap­pear­ing as fast as tigers are world­wide.

Mil­lions of hedge­hogs used to wan­der through our gar­dens and fields but now we have less than 900,000 in the United King­dom.

The last one I saw was in my mum’s gar­den in Sal­ford but spot­ting this beau­ti­ful crea­ture filled me with dread be­cause I re­alised that to cover its hunt­ing area it would need to cross more than one busy road.

Yes, hous­ing es­tates are not safe places for hedge­hogs. Peo­ple tend to fence off their gar­dens with no gaps for th­ese beau­ti­ful Bri­tish mam­mals to sneak through. Their only al­ter­na­tive is to risk their lives on foot­paths and roads.

Ob­vi­ously the re­moval of many hedgerows in the coun­try­side has af­fected hedge­hog num­bers too. It’s all in the name, hedge­hogs live and feed in hedges, so when we re­move the hedges we re­move the hedge­hogs.

The prob­lem with hedge­hogs is that they need to wan­der quite a large dis­tance to look for food. If you have a hedge­hog in your gar­den it will wan­der to at least five of your neigh­bours’ gar­dens to look for food.

At the Wildlife Trusts we think about hedge­hogs and lots of other wildlife and we are cre­at­ing won­der­ful hedgerows on our re­serves. And you can help out too by leav­ing or mak­ing small gaps in your fences to cre­ate ‘hedge­hog high­ways’ where they can wan­der and seek food.

As you pre­pare your gar­den leave log and leaf piles as shel­ters for hedge­hogs, or you can buy a pur­pose-built home where they can hi­ber­nate. If you are lucky enough to have a hedge­hog en­sure any deep holes or gul­lies are cov­ered up so they can’t get stuck.

Hav­ing a hedge­hog in your gar­den is great news if you are a gar­dener as they re­ally love to munch on big, crunchy bee­tles, earth­worms and slugs. Those rot­ten wood­piles will be great larders for hedge­hogs with ear­wigs, cen­tipedes and wood lice.

In fact the mild win­ter will mean a lot more food around for the few hedge­hogs we have in this re­gion.

For many of you, see­ing a hedge­hog is an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and we should en­sure that gen­er­a­tions to come have the chance to share that ex­pe­ri­ence.

To be­come a mem­ber of the Trust go to the web­site at www.lanc­swt. org.uk or call 01772 324129. For more in­for­ma­tion about Cheshire Wildlife Trust call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewil­dlifetrust.org. uk.

Hedge­hogs need to wan­der long dis­tances to find food

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